The birth of a giant planet. Credit: ESO/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/Weber et al.

A Glimpse into the Birth of Giant Planets

The wonders surrounding the birth of planets.


Have you ever wondered about the process behind the birth of planets, especially giant planets? A new photograph by the VLT and ALMA gives us a glimpse into what this is like in space.

Unveiling new dimensions of planetary formation, a striking image from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) suggests that giant planets, akin to Jupiter, could emerge from dusty clumps near young stars.

The ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) and Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have captured large dusty aggregates around a young star, V960 Mon. These clumps hold the potential to collapse and form colossal planets, offering an unprecedented look at the planet formation process.

A Glimpse Into the Birth of Giant Planets

Alice Zurlo, a researcher at Universidad Diego Portales, Chile, marks this discovery as the maiden detection of such clumps around a youthful star, which may subsequently morph into giant planets. The related research is published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.


Researchers drew upon the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch (SPHERE) instrument on ESO’s VLT to analyze the intricately spiraled material around V960 Mon. This star, located over 5000 light-years away in the Monoceros constellation, intrigued astronomers due to a sudden brightness spike in 2014.

A Deeper Look into the Star’s Structure

To gain a deeper understanding, astronomers utilized archived ALMA observations, revealing the spiral arms’ fragmentation and formation of clumps with planetary-like masses. The VLT observes the dusty material’s surface around the star, while ALMA delves deeper into its structure.

Astronomers hypothesize that giant planets form via ‘core accretion’, where dust particles coalesce, or ‘gravitational instability’, where large fragments contract and collapse. Until now, evidence of the latter scenario was elusive. Philipp Weber, a researcher at the University of Santiago, Chile, highlights this discovery as the first observation of gravitational instability at planetary scales.

A Decade-Long Search Reaps Rewards

The research team has spent over a decade investigating planetary formation and celebrated this remarkable discovery. Sebastián Pérez, part of the team from the University of Santiago, Chile, shared his excitement over their significant find.


ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), currently under construction in Chile’s Atacama Desert, promises to shed more light on this captivating planetary system in formation. Weber suggests the ELT will enable further exploration of these clumps’ chemical complexity, providing insights into the composition of potential planet-forming materials.

PLEASE READ: Have something to add? Visit Curiosmos on Facebook. Join the discussion in our mobile Telegram group. Also, follow us on Google News. Interesting in history, mysteries, and more? Visit Ancient Library’s Telegram group and become part of an exclusive group.

Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

Write for us

We’re always looking for new guest authors and we welcome individual bloggers to contribute high-quality guest posts.

Get In Touch